Saturday 18 February 1659/60

A great while at my vial and voice, learning to sing “Fly boy, fly boy,” without book. So to my office, where little to do. In the Hall I met with Mr. Eglin and one Looker, a famous gardener, servant to my Lord Salsbury, and among other things the gardener told a strange passage in good earnest … [how formerly Mr. Eglin did in his company put his finger, which being sore had a black case over it, into a woman’s belly, he named her Nan (which I guess who it is), and left his case within her; which Mr. Eglin blushed but did not deny it. Which truly I was sorry to hear and did think of it a good while afterward. – L&M] Home to dinner, and then went to my Lord’s lodgings to my turret there and took away most of my books, and sent them home by my maid. Thither came Capt. Holland to me who took me to the Half Moon tavern and Mr. Southorne, Blackburne’s clerk. Thence he took me to the Mitre in Fleet Street, where we heard (in a room over the music room) very plainly through the ceiling. Here we parted and I to Mr. Wotton’s, and with him to an alehouse and drank while he told me a great many stories of comedies that he had formerly seen acted, and the names of the principal actors, and gave me a very good account of it. Thence to Whitehall, where I met with Luellin and in the clerk’s chamber wrote a letter to my Lord. So home and to bed. This day two soldiers were hanged in the Strand for their late mutiny at Somerset-house.

39 Annotations

First Reading

David Quidnunc  •  Link

The "strange passage"

Latham & Matthews don't edit this out (Vol. 1 just arrived in the mail today!):

". . . and among other things, the gardiner told a strange passage in good earnest: how formerly Mr. Eglin did in his company put his finger, which being sore had a black case over it, into a woman's belly, he named her Nan (which I guess who it is), and left his case within her; which Mr. Eglin blushed but did not deny it. Which truly I was sorry to hear and did not think of it a good while afterward. Home to dinner . . ."

Keith Wright  •  Link

Stating the obvious (which may be easy to forget):

Pepys's mention of being able to hear the performance "very plainly" from the music room on the floor below reminds you again about the scarcity of music at this period: to hear it you had to be within earshot of the performer. (Easy to forget, in that those of us reading this entry today can have music on command almost anytime and anywhere.)

And if Pepys hears music, whether made by himself or others, he always seems to record it---underscoring how important it was to him.

David Quidnunc  •  Link

The Cast

"FLY BOY, FLY BOY" -- the song was published by Playford, the bookseller/publisher Pepys knows, in a 1659 book.

EGLIN -- Samuel Edlin, entered Magdalene College in 1653. This fine young man will become a deacon and priest in 1662, and heaven help the church ladies.

LOOKER -- first name unknown, gardiner to the Earl of Salisbury and aptly named, isn't he?

HOLLAND, Capt. Phillip, of the Navy, visited Pepys on the morning of 15 February.

SOUTHORNE -- James Southerne, who came late to the Pierces' wild party on 24 January, is clerk in the Admiralty office under . . .

BLACKBURNE -- Robert Blackborne, Admiralty official.

WOTTON -- cobbler & connoisseur of fine comedic acting.

-- from Latham & Matthews's edition of the diary (Vol. 1) & Latham's index (Vol. 11):

Susanna  •  Link

The Mitre

The Mitre Tavern was still in Fleet Street in 1746, where it appears on the map of London:…

It was then just opposite St. Dunstan's Church, and handy to all the lawyers in the Temple.

steve h  •  Link


The Puritans had closed the London theatres in 1642, to avert the wrath of God caused by these profane enjoyments. Actors were threatened with whipping and worse. In fact, a number of performances did take place in semi-secret between 1642 and 1660. The performances were at noblemen's manors, fairs like Bartholomew Fair, among amateurs at the Temple, and occasionally, surreptitiously at one of the old theatres.

In fact in 1658, William D'Avenant, a link with the pre-Commonwealth theatre and a big cheese in the Restoration, started putting on historical enetertainments at the Cockpit Theatre in London that were not banned. After the Monck takeover, several people applied for and received licenses for new theatre companies. Pepys, with his love of entertainments and events, was doubtless keen on this, for him, new experience. Only older folks were around to remember the theatre at this time.

A good online source is The Cambridge History of English and American Literature(1907-1921), Volume VIII: The Age of Dryden, at:…

Derek  •  Link

'Fly,Boy, fly to the Cellars Bottom' is the first line of the song that Pepys is learning - and 'And ill drop will much profane it' is the last. Thus much can be gleaned from Adam Smyth's Index of Poetry in Printed Miscellanies 1640-1682 at:…

It's noted there and elsewhere as being printed in An Antidote Against Melancholy (Playford 1661) and in the Windsor Drollery (1672) and as being a 'catch' i.e. a song intended to be sung as a canon or round. I imagine that it's also one of the songs in the 'big book' that Sam bought from Playford last week (see 13 Feb entry) and that it's likely to have been a popular song that Playford has collected.

steve h  •  Link

Two Mitre Taverns

There seem to have been actually two famous Mitre taverns with literary connections. Pepys's Mitre Tavern, which was also mentioned by Ben Jonson (Every Man in his Humour II iv) and which had existed in Elizabethan times was at Wood Street near St. Paul's. It seems likely it burned down in the Great Fire.

A second Mitre tavern, the one on Fleet Street near the Temple, was the haunt of Boswell and Dr. Johnson (1763), and was where the Antiquarian society was founded in 171, and was a haunt of the Royal Society Tdis Mitre was demolished in 1829. Perhaps someone can suggets when it was founded?

Thi is all very confusing. There's another Old Mitre Tavern, still existing, on Ely Place.

One other complication, the Wood Street Mitre is sometimes described as being on Fenchurch Street. Is that possible, Londoners?

Pauline  •  Link

Sam's Acting Debut
At the age of about 9, Sam was taken by a cousin and his wife to Surrey, where he visited in the home of Robert Coke and his wife Lady Theophila Berkeley. "...they lived splendidly in a country house belonging to her family, Durdans, near Epsom." Sam was "co-opted by the Cokes to play a part in a private production of Beaumont and Fletcher's romantic comedy 'Philaster, or Loves Lies a-Bleeding.' He was asked to take a leading role, as Arethusa....The play was a wonderful concoction of love, fine words, confusion and cross-dressing....[Sam] learned his part so well that he could still remember almost every word twenty-five years later."
from Claire Tomalin's biography of Pepys

johannm  •  Link

The topmost annotation makes me think we're going to need a background category for "sex"!

H. Ayers  •  Link

Any chance of annotating in the excised bits - perhaps in the 'Spanish' that Pepys himself used? It would not be beyond us to decipher it ourselves.

Phil  •  Link

The first annotation on this page is the excised bit of the entry.

Peregrina  •  Link

"This day two soldiers were hanged ..."
Rugge's Dirunal reads: "They were brought to the place of execution, which was at Charing Cross, and over against Somerset House in the Strand, where were two gibbets erected. These men were the grand actors in the mutinies at Gravesend, at Somerset House, and in St. James's Fields."

Eric Walla  •  Link

Do we have any more information ...

... on these mutinies, or were they just run-of-the mill events? In particular I guess I would be interested to know if they were politically motivated, or simply a military matter.

As an aside, I would like to point out that, since I have been writing here, I am now the recipient of enough European spam to last a lifetime. A company in the Netherlands wants to give me $5 million, except ... oops, I wasn't to disclose this or they would revoke the award! Oh well, easy come, easy go.

language hat  •  Link

Whoever's been posting entries from the Evelyn and Aubrey diaries: anything useful on the mutinies or other events of the day?

Michiel van der Leeuw  •  Link

"So to my office, where little to do"

Lucky man, that Sam. I've just been almost constantly working for 13 hours.....

Still, I wouldn't like being a 17th century working-classer (at least not every day)

David Quidnunc  •  Link

Mutiny & Execution

(Hey Eric, they promised ME that prize money! And I've got the same email to prove it!)

As to the mutiny and execution, Evelyn's diary has nothing (away from London and didn't return until 3 Feb. and got dangerously sick on 17 Feb. -- but even if he was in London, he might not have had anything, he's not the same kind of diarist as Pepys).

Latham & Matthews's edition (Vol. 1) has a note referring back to 2 Feb. ("but over against Somerset-house, hearing the noise of guns, we landed and found the Strand full of soldiers" -- more follows, but go back to that day and read the rest of it).

L&M's notes say that the regiment of foot had been "given" to the son of the speaker of Parliament (Col. Sir John Lenthall was the son). It attacked some officers and seized control of their headquarters in Somerset House. (L&M cite "Rugge, i, f.54r-v")

On 3 Feb., Pepys reports on some apprentices taken to Whitehall as prisoners. L&M say they had supported the mutiny. ("Merc. Pol. 9 February, p. 1074; Rugge, i, f.55r")

For today's execution, L&M merely point to their previous notes (and give this citation: "Pub.Intell., 20 February, p. 1019; Rugge, i,f.61r").

What do all these citations mean? In the "Editorial Abbreviations" section, L&M say:
-- "Rugge: Rugge, Thomas, 'Mercurius Politicus Redivivus, or a Colletion of the Most Materiall Occurances and Transactions in Publick Affairs since Anno Domini 1659' (BM, Add. 10116-17)"
-- There's no "Pub. Intell." listed, but there is a "Parl. Intell." -- "Parliamentary Intelligencer"

The Latham & Matthews edition is invaluable, and you can buy the paperback version for less than $17, shipping and handling included (but consider the hardcover edition), but it's frustrating to be confronted with the limits of only a local library and the Internet when we want to delve this deeply into Pepys's day-to-day existence.

I guess 5 years ago, having a site like this was barely imaginable. Is it too much to hope that by the time we're all through with the diary the newsletters of the period and Rugge's "Merc. Pol." will be online too?

And can someone tell us more about Mr. Rugge?

Roger Miller  •  Link

John Evelyn fell sick on 17th February and didn't recover until 5th April. If the online version of his diary is complete he covered this period only briefly:

"I was detained in Bed, with a kind of double Tertian, the cruell effects of the Spleene & other distempers, in that extremity, that my Physitians Dr. Wetherborn, Needham, Claud, were in greate doubt of my recovery, & in truth I was brought very low; but it pleased God to deliver me also out of this affliction, for which I render him hearty thanks....'

He does mention that although he was ill he managed to write a riposte to "a wicked forged paper, pretended to be sent from Bruxells, to defame his Majesties person, Virtues, & render him odious, now when every body were in hopes & expectation of the Gen: & Parliaments recalling him, & establishing the Government on its antient and right basis."

This was the letter by Marchamont Needham "News from Brussels in a Letter from a Near Attendant on His Majesty's Person . . .," published by Praise-God Barbon (Barebone) which retailed unfavourable anecdotes relating to Charles's morals.

Evelyn's diary for 1660:…

These are pages about an exhibition of 'The Archive of John Evelyn' held at the British Library in 1997:… The images inlude a 1685 letter from Pepys to Evelyn.

Fred Coleman  •  Link

David Quidnunc points out that the paperback edition of Pepy's Diary, edited by Latham & Matthews, can be purchased for under $17. It should be borne in mind, however, that this price is for one volume only. All 11 volumes easily take up over 3,000 pages and will occupy over a foot of space on your bookshelves. Daedalus Books is (was) offering the entire set for $55.00, well worth the price. They are quite handsomely put together and would make a splendid addition to your library, especially considering that they offer the complete text and two volumes of notes plus extensive footnotes in each volume. Daedalus Books can be reached at 1-800-944-8879 and no, I am not receiving a kickback!

Paul  •  Link


I'd like to take issue with Steve H's slightly glib remark about 'the Puritans' closing the theatres in 1642 'to avert the wrath of God' etc. The closures I believe were much more a political act than a religious one: theatre folk always having depended on royal/aristocratic patronage, it's unsurprising that by 1642 with a Civil War underway the playhouses had become organising centres of Royalist reaction - and even less so that the Revolution moved decisively against them. For a brilliant, concise (& admittedly leftist) account of the period - deep background for the Diary - I would strongly recommend Christopher Hill's 'The Century of Revolution'.

Laura K  •  Link

religious/political ban of theatre

Then as now, people used religion as a pretext for political acts. It's always easier when god is on your side. The Puritans are often characterized as a religious sect, but they can be viewed as a political movement as well.

gerry  •  Link

A check of Daedalus Books web site shows they no longer have the Pepys referred to. Amazon UK are offering a"tercentenary edition" of L&M in 4 vols. to be published in May. A great boon to NYC apartment dwellers.

Philip S  •  Link

Taking up Steve H’s query, that ”the Wood Street Mitre is sometimes described as being on Fenchurch Street. Is that possible, Londoners?”, I have had a look at two or three maps, old and new, including ‘The A to Z of Elizabethan London’ [Prockter and Taylor, 1979], and John Rocque’s 1746 map of London at , and have concluded that either the ”Wood Street Mitre” was indeed in Wood Street, off Cheapside, and thus some distance from Fenchurch Street…

(See… for this location in 1746.)

…Or that it was in Rood Lane (maybe?), which is a turning off Fenchurch Street, leading south to Eastcheap. Cheapside was, I think, formerly called Westcheap, and ‘Rood’; and ‘Wood’ do have, er, a certain similarity in their names… A thought, anyway. I feel sure that if there was a Mitre in Rood Lane Pepys would have visited it.

(Here’s Rood Lane in 1746:… )

There was also a Woodroffe Lane a few minutes walk south from Fenchurch Street towards the Tower, so this could perhaps be another candidate. (Incidentally, sometime after 1660 Pepys moved to Seething Lane, not far from Woodroffe Lane – which I hope doesn’t count as a plot-spoiler. Woodroffe Lane was later renamed Cooper’s Row - and nowadays it and Seething Lane are linked by a road named in SP’s honour, Pepys Street.)

(Here’s Woodroffe Lane in 1746:… )

I’m not sure if this helps in finding the ‘right’ Mitre, but I’ve enjoyed the attempt!

Yak  •  Link

Mitre: I am not sure that I am looking at the correct part of the 1746 map. I can see Woodruff Lane - no mention of Mitre. However, at the top left hand side of the map close to ALD-GATE is 'Mitre Ta' and 'Mitre C'. Do they mean Mitre Tavern and Mitre Court. Also looking at the Fenchurch Street map just south of the letter "F" in Fenchurch is 'Mitre C' . Perhaps these have got nothing to do with a public house. Am I barking up the wrong tree.

steve h  •  Link

theatre again

Perhaps, it's an oversimplification to say that the London theatres were closed to "avoid thewrath of God," of course, but that's certainly a major cause and every theatre historian I've read says so. For a satiric view, read Ben Jonson's Bartholomew Fair, with its character "Zeal-of-the-Land Busy" who fulminates against theatre and attacks a puppet theatre for its immorality. That hilarious satire aside, I know that many Puritan preachers railed against the theatre as a vice from 1600 onward, Cromwell seems to have been no fanatic, but he certainly enforced strongly the closing of theatres to appease the radicals. If anything, the English plays from 1625 on were all pretty tame (Massinger, Brome, Shirley), not terribly political or satiric.

Glyn  •  Link

"A great while at my vial and voice, learning to sing ”Fly boy, fly boy,” without book."

The viol was Pepys' best-loved instrument but rarely heard nowadays. This Friday (2 May 6.15 - 7.30pm) the National Portrait Gallery, St Martin's Lane, London is giving a free concert of viol-playing including pieces that are mentioned in the diary. It's in the room next to Pepys' portrait, and is being held as part of the Pepys' exhibition. Work prevents my own attendance but I hope someone can report on it.

james  •  Link

I am on my way to the Globe theatre to watch one of Shakespeares plays.

Second Reading

Terry Foreman  •  Link

The Sign of the Mitre that distinguished many taverns Pepys drank at

I assume this was the religious headgear, spec. the traditional, ceremonial head-dress of esp. Anglican (and Catholic) bishops.

Geoff Hallett  •  Link

For someone who came in half way through the previous diary, it seems Sam spends more time at home early mornings at the moment. Later he is up betimes and out.

Weavethe hawk  •  Link

Cannot understand why the more risque passages are missing this time around. I'm sure they were included in the previous postings.

Weavethe hawk  •  Link

I did read the entire nine volumes some years ago, maybe that's where I saw the juicier bits.

Terry Foreman  •  Link

The Mitre in Fleet Street -- following Susanna:

The Mitre Tavern was still in Fleet Street in 1746, where it appears on the map of London:…

It was then just opposite St. Dunstan's Church, and handy to all the lawyers in the Temple.

Third Reading

Stephane Chenard  •  Link

The Mercurius Politicus has a lot of color (mostly red) to add to today's executions, so get your popcorn, sit back and enjoy:

"Theire were this day, beeinge the eighteene day of Febuary, one serjent and eight souldiers of the army, who were lately sentenced att the ore[?] cort marshall of the army, fouer of them to die and five of them to be tied to a gibbett with haulters about theire necks for half a houer and be whiped by the executioner on the beare back with a whipcord lash.

"They ware brought to the place of execution, which were att Charing Cross and over against Sumersett House in the Strond, where were two gibbetts erected; but by the mercy of the commissioners for the goverment of the army the fouer condemned to die ware premitted to cast lots for theire lives, two to die and the other two to be spared."

[Here let us pause & ponder the Government its benevolence, in staying of Jack Ketch the fearsome hand. Perfect time for the orange girls to work the Charing Cross crowd.]

"And the lots fell upon the two more notorious to die and the two [less] culpaple to be speared [a miracle!], and accordingly the two on whom the lots fell ware executed on two gibett[s]; the other two in prison till further order. And the other fouer (4) souldiers and serjent were whiped in maner aforesaid: the serjent 40 stripes, and 1 souldier had 21 stripes and the other three souldiers 39 stripes, and made capeabl never to serve in the army, not to bee entertained by any; if so, to have the same punishment inflicted on them againe."

If memory serves there's also around 40 of the prentices who rioted along, still in various prisons.

[We now embark on another Embassy to New Spain, far beyond easy reach of the post. We think this fit to Advertise as upon a previous disappearance we were fear'd to be dedd.]

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

whipcord in British English
1. a strong worsted or cotton fabric with a diagonally ribbed surface
2. a closely twisted hard cord used for the lashes of whips, etc
Collins English Dictionary.

Sounds less lethal than the cat-o-nine-tails, but very unpleasant nevertheless.

Jankat  •  Link

Thank you so much Phil, for reminding us of the rules re annotations being on topic and useful in understanding the Diary and the time in which it was written. I can’t remember the number of times over the years that I’ve had to skip certain long entries of tedious imaginary dialogue which added nothing to the discussion.

Michaela  •  Link

On starting the diary the second time around (for me) it’s interesting to note how innocent and chaste Sam seems at this point of the diary. No leering or groping mentioned anywhere, and he seems slightly disgusted rather than titillated by Looker’s anecdote.
Was this because he is emerging from a society where licentiousness was frowned on, or just because it was before he had decided to write about that part of his life in his diary?
I personally suspect the former - it must have been difficult to resist joining in with the new wild ways when presented with examples everywhere, women seemingly available and willing (in his opinion), and probably more provocatively dressed than before - not to mentioned hot theatres pressed up close with the ribald audience and with orange girls around offering their wares.

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

How about the ill we see in others we only dimly perceive in ourselves, Michaela?

London was a dangerous place at the best of times -- runaway horses -- desperate, unemployed robbers -- no police force -- excretment being thrown out of windows, etc. -- but these days the inhabitants could also walk around the corner and become unwittingly involved in another riot between army factions, parliament and/or the city militia.
At times like this your subconscious is preoccupied with being super-aware; survival and your next meal are the most important things, plus protecting your stuff and the people you love.
Pepys is an intelligencer for Montagu -- and Downing? -- so keeping his head down, asking the right questions and listening to the answers are what his life -- and paid employment -- is about; his seat at the office is just his cover.

Your comments about the new wild ways and seemingly available women, theater and orange girls are spoilers! Charles II isn't here yet, and it takes him until 9 July, 1660 (still less than 6 weeks after his Restoration), to issue a royal warrant requiring the issue of a patent under the Great Seal authorizing Thomas Killigrew to establish a company of actors and build a theatre. The warrant also recognizes Sir William Davenant's rights under his patent from King Charles, but all other companies of actors are suppressed.
Then they can set up the theaters and hire actors, so it's going to be a while before there is a performance for Pepys to report on for us.

The wild ways and ladies are still in the Netherlands.

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